It’s been a mild winter in the Northwest. Downhill ski areas are only partially open, flowers are blooming and Seattle is on pace for one of the warmest winters on record.
So where can you go for snow when Mother Nature doesn’t deliver as hoped? Six friends and I turned to the cross-country trails of the Methow Valley in north central Washington.
For two nights in January we made the Rendezvous Hut our home. It’s one of five huts that make up the Rendezvous Hut system in Winthrop, Washington. Accessible only by skis, the huts are in the heart of hundreds of kilometers of world-class cross-country skiing.
Photo by James Harnois.
Each hut sleeps eight people and is stocked with a woodstove, propane stove and oven, propane lights, fuel, pots, pans, utensils and sleeping pads for rustic comfort in the mountains.
You can carry in your own food and gear, but it’s well worth it to pay a bit extra for a freight haul and enjoy a leisurely ski in with only the weight of a daypack. The freight haul lets you load your food, drinks, sleeping bags, extra ski gear, games and more (up to 300 lbs.) on a sled that’s pulled behind a snowmobile. When you arrive at your hut on skis a few hours later, your food and gear will be ready and waiting.
The Methow Valley features an extensive trail system that provides 120 miles (200+ kilometers) of skiing on freshly groomed trails through beautiful terrain with astounding views. The trails are maintained by the Methow Trails nonprofit organization.
Certain trails allow dogs and three of the huts are dog friendly, so bring along your four-legged friend. Check the Methow Trails website to see where dogs are permitted.
After a full day of skiing, you can refuel with a feast prepared with the propane-powered stove and oven.
The off-grid huts give you a chance to unplug and unwind.
Holiday and full-moon weekends fill up fast, so it’s never too early to make a reservation for next year. For more information, visit the Rendezvous Huts website.
All photographs credited to REI Employee James Harnois.